If your family is like my family, this is the time of the year we like to be spontaneous, get in the car, and drive around to explore our beautiful country!
Here are some activities we do, and items we take along with us, to keep us all sane, and our kids screen-freeless (meaning, they will spend less time on electronics):
- A Drawing Kit – attach some sheets of plain paper to a clipboard and put some crayons in a box (or attach them with strings to the clipboard). Encourage your child to draw pictures of what they see outside their window, what they see inside the car, what they think the next place you’ll stop looks like, what you’ll eat for lunch, etc. I also add stencils, stamps, and stickers to the box, to prolong the engagement in this activity.
- Reusable Sticker Pads – stickers are always fun, especially if you can use the over and over again! Scene sticker pads are very engaging and provide the opportunity to promote fine motor and visual-motor skills, as well as language skills. Let your child set the scenes and spur their imagination!
- Painting/Coloring Books with Water Drawing Pen – these mess-free books come with a magic pen that can be refilled with water to color the pictures in the book. Once the pages dry, the pictures can be painted again, reducing the consumption of papers!
- A Snack Box – I get a multi-compartment container (like a beads storage box) and a variety of kid-friendly and mostly healthy snacks. Each one of my kiddos gets to pack their favorite snacks to bring along. I try to choose snacks that don’t need to be refrigerated and that are low in sugar, but I will have a couple of candy options. Some ideas: pretzels (rods, PB filled, twisted, yogurt dipped, etc.) crackers (regular or filled with cheese/PB), dried fruits and/or freeze-dried fruits, Cheeto Puffs, fig bars, mini cookies, gummy bears, M&M’s, lollipops (I always prefer Trader Joe’S organic lollipops), goldfish, and animal crackers. Although it can sometimes get messy, and the car might look like a little trash can, the kids love it and they are less likely to complain that they are hungry!
- Mini LEGO Box – my son and younger daughter love to build with Legos! I use a simple pencil box, attach a lego base plate to the top lid (I use double-sided adhesive, and fill up the box with a variety of their LEGO pieces). This is often a favorite, and I love that they use their imagination and enhance their fine motor, and bilateral hand use skills!
- A Fidget Box – another favorite is the fidget boxes I pack. I make 3 different ones, so the kids get to rotate them. Some ideas for items include: squeeze balls (there are so many different types, so I put a different one in each box), Wiki Stix (fun to stick on the windows… just make sure they don’t block the driver’s view), stretchy strings, snake cubes, flippy chains, mesh and marble toys, mini fidget spinner, puzzle balls, etc.
- Books – if your child doesn’t get car sick reading in the car, books can always help the time pass faster. For my little one, I bring more interactive books or busy books (the ones with the fasteners or little parts that Velcro), to keep her engaged.
- Card Games – Go Fish, Lazy 8, Old Maid, and even regular playing cards are always a hit!
- Magna Doodle – this one is a lifesaver! I actually keep it in the car even for short rides! My little one has been using it in the car since she could hold the pen and scribble. Now, she loves copying road signs and street names, or letters to us who sit in the front. My older kiddos love to play tic-tac-toe or hang-man on it… so I bring 2 boards.
- When all else fails, put a movie on or bring out the electronics
Have a safe drive and enjoy this wonderful family time! 🚙